A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding the Health Benefits of Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is among the oldest natural health remedies in human history. That’s because it is well known that the Aboriginal people of Australia used this extract from the melaleuca tree for thousands of years.

When the British explorer Captain Cook first encountered the Aboriginals in 1732, one of the first useful products he obtained from them was a spicy and refreshing tea made from the melaleuca tree.

Cook’s crew also discovered that the Native Australians used an oil extract from the melaleuca tree — what we call tea tree oil today — for a wide range of medicinal purposes, including healing the skin, treating infected wounds and fungal infections.

The melaleuca tree is native to Australia. In Captain Cook’s day it was called the paperbark tree. By 1760, extracts from the tree in the form of oil began making its way back to Europe where it became valued as a natural remedy, especially for skin conditions and infections.


It is important to note that tea tree oil is not for internal use. That means its toxic if you swallow it. Like many of our best skin medicines, it’s meant only for use externally on the skin. The tea tree tea that Captain Cook drank was not made from the oil, but brewed from leaves oF the tree.


There can be no doubt that tea tree oil has antibacterial properties. Mainstream medical science has debated the actual benefits of this substance for years, but the fact is there are solid scientific studies which prove tea tree oil is antibacterial.

One of those studies was published in the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine. It compared tea tree oil against phenol which is one of modern medicine’s most commonly used antiseptics and disinfection agents. The study found that tea tree oil was 11 times more active than phenol in killing bacteria than was phenol.


Tea tree oil is generally found in just about every household in Australia because it is widely understood there to be a “cure-all” for many conditions, but mostly for skin problems.

Tea tree oil has antioxidant properties than can significantly reduce skin blemishes, including “age spots” and marks left as a result of scarring. Although the evidence is considered anecdotal, millions of people use tea tree oil as an anti-wrinkle agent because it appears to work well for many.

Tea tree oil is commonly used to treat acne. It helps by killing harmful germs and bacteria that can infect acne lesions and make it worse. Bad acne can cause permanent scarring of the skin, but tea tree oil is effective in reducing this problem. It can cleanse bacteria from the skin’s sebum glands and thus greatly reduce acne and the scarring it can produce.

Tea tree oil works similarly for other skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.


Tea tree oil is highly valued for treatment of hair, especially for taking on problems with dandruff and hair loss. To this end one can find tea tree oil in the form commercially sold shampoo and soap brands.

Other people choose to dilute pure tea tree oil with water and apply it to the scalp. It is believed to stimulate blood flow between the scalp and hair follicles. This strengthens how hair follicle roots are embedded within the scalp. It also keeps the scalp from getting dry which reduces dandruff and gives hair a lustrous feel and look.


Although tea tree oil should never be used internally, it is safe to place drops in the ear canal. Doing so has been shown to be effective in treating ear infections. It does that by killing bacteria that produce ear infection pain and inflammation.


Since the most dangerous part of a cut or puncture is an infection in that wound, it just makes sense that applying a powerful antibacterial agent to the affected area knocks back infection and speeds healing. Again, the ancient Aboriginals of Australia used tea tree oil in this way for thousands of years.


Just the basics have been covered in this brief introduction of the amazing tea tree oil. Used for centuries as a healing agent, modern medical research continues today to uncover new benefits of this healthy natural substance.

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About the author: Wifred Murray

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